Frustration over delayed £4m Government cash for charity volunteer managers

Fund announced by Office of the Third Sector more than 12 months ago has yet to open

Details of the long-delayed £4m fund to train volunteer managers will be published by the end of this month, the Government has promised.

The fund was announced in March last year in response to the Manifesto for Change, the report by the Commission on the Future of Volunteering.

Sector organisations have voiced their frustration at the Government's failure to make progress with the scheme at a time when rising unemployment is prompting more people to volunteer and the need for management skills is rising.

Debbie Usiskin, vice-chair of the Association of Volunteer Managers, said: "The Government announced this more than a year ago, but it has said nothing about how or when it will be delivered.

"We are in regular contact with the Office of the Third Sector to find out what's happening; we would like to be part of the discussion on how the fund will be shaped.

"If the Government wants to encourage more people to volunteer through its new brokerage scheme, it will have to make sure there are plenty of skilled, well-trained managers in place to make their experiences constructive and worthwhile."

Dame Elisabeth Hoodless, executive director of volunteering charity CSV, said: "The sector needs this money urgently. The number of volunteers is rising rapidly as unemployment increases, and we need to ensure they are managed efficiently. We are trying not to be impatient, but we have been kept waiting for a long time."

A spokeswoman for environmental volunteering charity BTCV said that it had heard nothing about the fund since it was announced last year. "We will be very interested to know more details," she said.

A Volunteering England spokeswoman said the charity was working with the OTS to plan the delivery of the fund.

An OTS spokesman attributed the delay to work on February's £42.5m third sector action plan. He said the £4m fund would not come out of the money allocated to the action plan.


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